Steamboat man found not guilty in wage theft case
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs man was acquitted Wednesday, Jan. 29, of charges alleging he fabricated his time cards following a jury trial in the Routt Combined Court.
Jeffrey Wanserski, 31, was arrested in February 2019 on suspicion of stealing more than $26,000 over a three-year period from his former employer, Golden Leaf, a local marijuana dispensary.
He was charged with three felonies, including computer crime, theft and criminal impersonation, according to an arrest affidavit obtained from the Routt County Justice Center last year.
It only took 10 minutes for a 12-person jury to deliberate and find Wanserski not guilty of those charges, according to his attorney Kris Hammond.
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“The state could not prove Wanserski was not working during the hours that had been changed,” Hammond said.
He was able to prove his client performed work off-site from the dispensary, which included running errands, buying supplies and working at other locations associated with Golden Leaf. Wanserski also testified he would sometimes travel to grow facilities, which provide the dispensary with marijuana, to help with tasks such as cleaning and mechanical work, Hammond said.
For Wanserski, the allegations lodged against him have cost him more than his job at Golden Leaf, Hammond added.
“This whole case has been a horrible ordeal for my client,” Hammond said. “I wish a more thorough investigation of the case had been done.”
The attorney considered Wanserski’s arrest premature.
“I don’t think anybody made any attempt to verify the information they got from Golden Leaf,” Hammond said.
District Attorney Matt Karzen said the prosecution was appropriate based on the evidence collected. A major piece of evidence used in the trial was a computer software program used to track employee hours, which Karzen said had irregularities suggesting Wanserski claimed hours that he did not actually work.
In an email, Golden Leaf Anderson, owner of the dispensary, said he is disappointed by the jury’s verdict.
“Considering the nuances of criminal court procedures, we do not feel as if the jury was privy to all of the evidence and therefore did not have an accurate picture of what actually occurred,” Anderson said.
He added that he is “diligently evaluating next steps” but was not sure so soon after the verdict what those steps would entail.
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